For 2023, Honda has toned down the Civic Type R’s styling. But the automaker promises it has turned up the car’s performance.
Honda says that the 2023 Civic Type R will be the most powerful Type R the company has ever built. But if you want to know exactly how much power and torque that means, you’re going to have to wait.
Honda will show you the new car’s more sedate looks and talk about the interior and tech, but the brand will not tell you how many horses the ultimate Civic will have.
Latest in Long Line of Hot Civics
The 2023 Honda Civic Type R breaks hugely away from the Hot Import Nights look of the previous-generation car. But really, it’s more of a return to form for the model. Because going all the way back to the original Civic Type R of 1998, this wasn’t a flashy front-drive monster.
That original Type R, sold in Japan (no Type R models were sold in the U.S. before 2017), looked like any other Civic hatchback with the addition of a small rear spoiler. And, of course, a bright-red interior.
Through four more generations of the Type R, which American enthusiasts could pine for but not touch, the car grew slightly more tuner-style in its looks. But it was all functional, including slightly wider wheel arches to fit wider tires and wheels.
Honda’s 11th-generation Civic flipped the 10th-gen car’s futuristic angles to more traditional curves, and so does the Type R based on it.
That doesn’t mean Honda hasn’t made any changes to one of the highest-performing front-drive cars in the world, though.
Exterior Changes Important but Subtle
The 2023 Civic Type R gets a new front bumper with more aggressive air inlets, a hexagonal mesh for the grille, and its iconic red Honda badge. Look up from the bumper and you’ll see a new hood vent designed to help extract air from the nose. To the sides, the fenders are wider than the standard hatchback — yes, the Type R is a hatch once again — to fit the new tires.
New side skirts distract from the functional fender vents and help draw your eyes around to the new rear diffuser. Like the last Type R, it holds a trio of tailpipes. This time, though, the odd pipe is bigger than the others, not smaller.
Lastly, there’s that rear wing. A massive aero part attached to the hatch, Honda says it generates real downforce. It’s also probably the only way the average person will be able to tell the CTR apart from lesser Civic hatch models.
2.0L Turbo Gets Upgrades
The old Civic Type R’s 2.0L turbo-four engine is updated for the new model. We can see new cosmetic covers for it and a new carbon intake manifold cover, but what we can’t see is how much power it will make.
Honda says only that the “all-new 2023 Honda Civic Type R is the most powerful Type R ever.” The old car made 306 horsepower in North America but made 316 horsepower in Europe and Japan. So either one of those figures could be the one Honda is looking to beat here. At least it won’t output less power than the latest Civic Si’s drop from 205 to 200?
The only transmission for the Type R will be a six-speed manual with rev-matching. Honda says it has improved both to enhance the driver’s connection with the car.
New 265/30R19 Michelin tires are 20 mm wider than the old car and mounted to wheels one inch smaller in diameter. The change should increase grip and actually help improve ride quality.
Bright-Red Interior Lives, Gets a New Hue
The Type R’s almost garish red interior, that’s red carpet floor mats and seats, returns. The color is a new red, though, and Honda says it’s meant to add some sophistication to the car.
Why so bright? Honda likens it to a Pavlovian response, saying, “The moment you open the door, the bright-red world jumps into your field of vision and stimulates your anticipation for the driving experience you are about to have.”
Type R gets its own digital dash graphics with track-friendly pages displaying key information clearly and cleanly. The center screen has Honda’s LogR data logging system that can record the car’s mechanical movements and your inputs. It also can capture lap times and share driving videos.
All we know about suspension and steering is that Honda said they’re improved. The company is keeping the details close. Thanks to a shot of one of Honda’s drive mode customization pages, we can see what look to be adjustable dampers.
It seems to work, as the car set a production front-drive lap record around the Suzuka circuit as part of its testing regimen. We also have confidence in Honda’s ability to build one hell of a hot hatch.
The 2023 Civic Type R is set to launch this fall. We’ll get the rest of the details, as well as the new car’s price, around that time.